Pro: To Kill a Banned Book

Pro: To Kill a Banned Book

Photo illustration by Jasmine Casanova.

When children are exposed to obscene material via literature, they can become desensitized. 

To limit and decrease desensitization in children, schools should ban books that are inappropriate and violent.

No, it is not theorized by any reputable research organization that children will directly act on violent or sexual activities seen or read about in the media. This subject has been queried and proven time and time again to be completely false. 

One such instance of this theory being disproved is a United States Department of Education report that states that only 24% of perpetrators of school shootings had shown interest in violent books. 

Children who read a book where someone gets decapitated will not immediately want to go around decapitating people.

However, it is highly likely that a child reading about this aforementioned depiction of decapitation has taken their first steps out of a few dozen towards being used to hearing about violence and, eventually, would just not care about violence anymore. 

Children have developing brains, and it is necessary to be raised to be sensitive to “adult” themes as this helps to develop class.

An article by the Institute for Family Studies said that the content consumed can affect the level of desensitization experienced. 

“What was once shocking eventually barely registers. Like a drug, the more violence and sexual content we take in, the more of it we need to get the same shock factor.”

This means that children who expose themselves to shocking literature could get desensitized at an exponential rate.

Not only does obscenity in literature cause children to be desensitized at too young of an age, but it also can cause children to develop aggressive behavior. As stated before, reading about obscene activity does not cause children to mimic said obscene activity, but it can, in fact, affect the child reader’s behavioral patterns.

A Brigham Young University research team led by Professor Sarah M. Coyne has divided aggression into two types: physical and relational. 

The research team conducted an experiment that divided a group of 67 university students in two. Both read a short story about a college freshman and roommate having a disagreement. The first half of the group read a version of this story that ended with the two college students getting into a physical fight, and the other half read an alternate version that features the freshman filming her roommate breaking the dorm rules and threatening to post the video on YouTube.

The 67 students were all interrupted while reading the story by emails from a “partner” that was actually a computer program. 

The computer program repeatedly and aggressively told each group member to “hurry up,” among other things. After finishing the story, each participant played a game with the computer program, sounding a sort of buzzer after winning a round of the game.

The students that read the physical aggression variant of the story were more physically aggressive towards the computerized partner, sounding the buzzer louder and for longer periods of time.

So technically, the subject of obscenity in literature boils down not only to desensitization but also to how it affects behavior. While reading obscene material won’t directly cause children to be serial killers, it can introduce to them a level of aggression and desensitization that shouldn’t be present in people that young. Therefore, it is necessary to withhold certain literary material from young people whose minds are still developing.

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